The Best Among You is he who learns the Qur’an and teaches it
Sahih Bukhari Vol 6, No.545
I don’t think it’s too big of a stretch to say that anyone who is Muslim has to have heard or read the above referenced hadith a billion times in their life. At face value, the quote embodies the essence of Islam. It’s a simple and straight-forward call to action. But for some people, especially a guy like me, within this statement lies a problem.
I’m not a good teacher. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Islam, economics or even something as simple as explaining the rules of Monopoly, I’m just awful. I wouldn’t trust myself to confidently stand in front of a classroom of 30 students and lecture them on the theory behind any subject. I’d just end up sounding like a stumbling and bumbling buffoon.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying that I’m completely incapable of having people learn something beneficial from me nor am I saying that if you were within my presence you’d gradually become dumber and dumber.
I mean to say I can’t teach in the traditional sense. You know, with theories and formulas and wordy explanations which involve going into meticulous detail on a subject. I just would not be able to pull it off without looking like a dunce.
Do As I Do, Not As I Say
I’m a visual guy so I best teach by keeping semantics to a minimum and simply demonstrating the lessons I want to convey. You want to learn how to change the tire on a car? Here, let me show you.
You want to know how to perform a sick double crossover? Grab your shorts and meet me on the basketball court and I’ll be happy to show you how it’s done.
You need help solving for x (algebra)? Gimme a pencil and a piece of paper and observe as I work a problem out for you, step-by-step (Caution: There’s a good chance I still solve the problem wrong; I never was a math wiz).
You want to know how to wudhu and pray salat? Watch and learn.
So the point I’m trying to make is that not only do I learn best by seeing theory put into action, but I also best teach through action rather than spouting off techniques and rules. I believe the same applies to teaching the Qur’an; you learn by doing and you teach by doing. The best way to teach the Qur’an is through being a walking Qur’an by applying the Qur’an’s teachings practically in everyday life.
Teaching by Doing
The wife of the Prophet(PBUH), Aisha(RA) when asked by a companion about the manners of the Prophet said,
Do you read the Qur’an? His manners were the Qur’an.
In other narrations Aisha was quoted to have said that the Prophet was a “walking Qur’an”.
He was the Qur’an in action. All the commandments, all the virtues the book touts, all of the admirable practices and manners which Allah states pleases him, the beloved Prophet (PBUH) embodied them to the utmost degree.
In this fast-paced age where information is obtained in the palm of your hands in an instant, you can figure out how to do anything just by watching a video tutorial on YouTube.
If the Qur’an is looked at as an instruction manual on how mankind can attain everlasting happiness in Paradise, then the Prophet Muhammad was the video tutorial of the Qur’an’s message.
Believing vs. Applying
It’s very easy to believe in something, but it’s a whole different story to apply it in your everyday life. A person can firmly believe that avoiding fried foods is the key to drastic weight loss, but how firmly does he believe this if he’s always seen downing donuts and fried chicken and samosas?
A business man can stand by his code of ethics of being honest in his dealings or a doctor can swear to fulfill the Hippocratic oath in his practice but translating this into action, they can be sleazy, greedy and corrupt.
Any average Muslim can say they believe the Qur’an is the word of Allah and the guide to life while at the same time their actions can show that they don’t really take the Qur’an very seriously. You can’t be all talk and no action.
There are countless stories in the hadith of the Prophet of how the Prophet lived his life and taught his followers. He was the absolute best in character and the reason why was because he exhibited the Qur’an down to a T.
Heres just one of many examples:
Through the Qur’an Allah states to not be overly harsh with those who oppose you. The Prophet carried out this commandment impeccably.
Look at Tai’f when he was pelted severely with stones while trying to call people to Islam. Read the story about the woman who poisoned him. The story of the man who urinated in the masjid.
I could go on and on.
Walking the Walk > Talking the Talk
The Prophet Muhammad never struck me as a vocal preacher type. From reading up on his life, he just wasn’t that kind of guy. He was a shy man. He was a man of little words. It seemed the only time he spoke at length, the words weren’t even his but rather, the recitation of the Qur’an revealed to him.
The old saying “actions speak louder than words” best illustrates the Prophet over any other person this world has ever witnessed. A significant chunk of the hadith are not paragraphs and paragraphs of stuff the Prophet said or lectures he gave, but are detailed narrations describing his actions, his demeanor and behavior.
The teaching style of the Prophet was hands-on and I’m sure it was because he knew focusing on the wisdom of his actions would have the greatest effect and the greatest probability of retention and application.
So when it comes to us—both as individuals and as an ummah—our deen can be best relayed through our actions. It’s possibly the best form of dawah we can do.
- Being good to our neighbors, our coworkers, our family and friends.
- Being upright citizens wherever we are.
- Taking a stand against injustice instead of sitting idly by or looking the other way.
Perceptions change through actions. I remember reading the results of a poll on how Americans perceived Muslims; those who viewed Muslims favorably had a Muslim friend, coworker or dealt with someone in their everyday life that was Muslim and exhibited admirable traits.
Also from what I have seen, the majority of those who convert to Islam do so because of someone they knew of good character who happened to be Muslim and sparked their interest in learning about the religion.
I remember a story I read a year ago about a Muslim taxicab driver in New York who discovered $21,000 worth of cash left by a passenger and returned the money back to the rightful owner. He was interviewed and said he was never tempted to take the money because he was Muslim and that it was better to be honest than greedy.
I read the comments underneath the article and folks were stating how they were glad to see a news story about a Muslim doing good for a change and one even stated, “Wow, who knew there were actually good Muslims out there?”
The majority of folks who have a negative perception of Islam and Muslims, don’t know any Muslims! If they did, statistics show that their negative perception is drastically depleted.
The way we can do this is by living the Qur’an. Being that walking Qur’an through our actions, our behavior, the way we talk, the way we interact and carry ourselves. By not being that grumbling, frowning, up-to-no-good caricature that the public makes us out to be.
So let’s go out there and be that walking Qur’an for the world to see.
Maybe after seeing a Qur’an walking down the street a person may just go and pick one up to read.
Brother Asif Balouch is a new contributor to Islamic Learning Materials. You can read more from Brother Asif (and his rapidly growing family) by visiting his blog PhilAsify 101.